For all of the games the Red Deer College Queens team have out played the opposition and lost this season, they finally found themselves on the other side of the equation on Thursday night.
The Queens (10-5-4) were dominated by the NAIT Ooks (14-3-2) for 65 minutes but some how managed to pullout a 4-3 shootout win in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s hockey action at the Red Deer Arena.
“Maybe the hockey gods were smiling on us tonight,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz.
“We were able to get the job done when I don’t think we maybe played hard enough to get the two points, but we got them.”
Jayna Kitchen scored twice for the Queens while captain Rachel Hoppins also scored and added another in the shootout as Kaely McMurtry popped in the winning goal. Moriah Andrews made 27 saves through overtime and stopped three of the four NAIT shooters she faced in the game ending skills competition.
Sherri Bowles, Renata Mastna and Livia Lucova replied for the Ooks while Jill Diachuk was chased after allowing three goals on five shots before being replaced by Laura Wagner who stopped all 10 shots she faced.
Despite getting outplayed, the Queens found themselves up 3-0, 40 seconds into the second period. But the Ooks slowly wore down RDC, as Bowels finally beat Andrews at 11:24 of the frame.
In the third period, Mastna managed to squeak a shot through Andrews five-hole at 7:14 and then Lucova tied the game at 18:40 with the goalie pulled, getting Andrews to go down early and then chipping the shot over her right shoulder.
The score held through overtime and the Queens managed to pull it out in a shoot out for the second time in five tries this season.
McMurtry scored the winner as Wagner looked deke the whole way but was surprised with the crafty forward shot five-hole.
“It was a weird game, we thought we hadn’t played our best hockey in the first period but still came out with a 2-0 lead,” said Kitchen. “But they definitely came back hard, they know what’s on the line just as much as we do. We’re trying to catch them for first place and they’re trying to three-peat, finishing first place in the league three years in a row. It was definitely a battle, it wasn’t our best game but we found a way.”
Key to the win was the Queens penalty kill as they successfully killed all four penalties and then added a short-handed goal on Kitchen’s second marker in the first period at 14:04. RDC was 0-for-2 on the power play.
“For whatever reason we’re taking way to many penalties in the last four or five games, but (the penalty kill unit) has been good for us all year,” said Rutz.
The win moved RDC to within six points of first place with five games to go before playoffs. It also moved them to within one point or a MacEwan University Griffins’ (5-11-2) loss of officially clinching a playoff spot.
The Queens have been one of the few teams to play the Ooks tough all season, holding a 3-1-1 advantage in their five head-to-head meetings. With three games left between the two clubs, including Saturday’s showdown in Edmonton, that gap can be closed.
“I’ve been here for four years but the last three years they’ve knocked us out of the playoffs, once in the championship game which was kind of a knife to the heart,” said Kitchen. “I think every time we come in and see NAIT on the ice, it’s an extra little fire underneath you to get going.”